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Turning a global brand local

September 21, 2005

American Express is becoming glocal; by localizing their brand to ensure it’s in tune with the needs of young professionals. Amex has just launched a new card IN:Chicago that follows the launch of last year’s IN:New York. The fee-based card offers a rewards program that can be redeemed at local restaurants, bars and cultural centers like museums and theaters.

It’s a good move for Amex who can attract the young professional audience and keep their important merchants happy by involving them in the rewards scheme.

The move to localize a financial services product is an interesting one, given the massive consolidation in the industry. In banking, this is creating a widening gap between the large national/global players and the small local players. The big players offer scale, but have a perceived weakness in their lack of local understanding and personal service, that gap can allow the smaller players to take share. To remedy this, the larger players need to tailor marketing efforts where appropriate, such as local sponsorships.

American Express is seizing the opportunity to tap into a huge local market and the pride that the citizens feel for their home city and its institutions. The brand could and probably will go further. It could organize special events for cardmembers with specific interests; gourmet food nights at top restaurants, art appreciation classes at local museums and concerts for cardmembers. American Express needs to ensure the card transcends the world of the local rewards card and becomes an indispensable tool for the social life of young professionals in the city.

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